Home Run Derby going the way of the dunk contest

Patrick Newell

Is the home run derby heading the way of the NBA’s dunk contest? Most of the NBA’s biggest stars now bypass the dunk fest in favor of the “B listers.” Dwight Howard is the exception to that rule; however, LeBron James has never competed, Kobe Bryant stopped competing in the late ‘90s, and I don’t believe Dwayne Wade has ever competed either.
At Monday’s All-Star game Derby in Anaheim, the “B listers” rounded out a field that was predestined to go the way of a proven slugger. David Ortiz, one of the great power hitters of this generation – and with 335 career homers – won the contest with ease defeating the Florida Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez.
Defending champion, Prince Fielder, was not in the field, nor was 2008 champion Justin Morneau or previous champion Vladimir Guerrero. What we had was Chris Young, who has 86 homers and is coming off a 15-homer season; Ramirez, he of just one 30-homer season, along with Corey Hart (never had more than 24 in one season), Vernon Wells, Matt Holliday, Nick Swisher, and Miguel Cabrera. Aside from Ortiz, only Cabrera merits “slugger” consideration.
One could comprise an entire field of American Leaguers – who did not compete Monday – that would dwarf the credentials of yesterday’s field. How ‘bout Guerrero, Morneau, Josh Hamilton, Paul Konerko, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Pena, Mark Texeira, and Major League home run leader, Jose Bautista?
A list of National Leaguers on the sidelines for the event is nearly as impressive. Watching from the cheap seats were Albert Pujols, Fielder, Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds, Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, and Ryan Zimmerman among others.
It was nice to see “Big Papi” show that he still is a relevant power hitter, yet, the value of the home run derby will fall off more quickly than a Stephen Strasburg 12-to-6 curveball if the best sluggers would rather be a fan than a participant.